Preparing for all eventualities - Supply Management

Preparing for all eventualities

10 August 2011
From a human perspective, the events of this week in the UK have been tragic, shameful and deeply distressing. Yet, among the turmoil and destruction caused by the riots, there are a couple of things that merit discussion. Recently I wrote a story about the importance of developing a complex system to model all the potential hazards to your supply chain. The essence of the article was that businesses should apply chaos theory to their operations. It’s a very strong idea, but one that has a clear flaw – you can’t predict how things will turn out. The Metropolitan Police has been criticised for being underprepared. Some of it is justified, some not, but I just can’t see how anybody, even with unlimited resources, could have predicted the size and span of the trouble. Things happen that you just don’t expect – it’s how you react that matters. Yesterday, it was reported that one impact of the riots was sales of baseball bats on Amazon UK had increased by 5,000 per cent (I think it’s safe to assume that the base level was pretty low). A similar phenomenon occurred when singer Amy Winehouse died – HMV stores across the country sold out of her records and she flew up the iTunes charts within 24 hours of the news breaking. Traders on the stock market are only too familiar with events such as this – extracting the specific effects of global stories on the business world is what they do. This immediate, in-depth analysis is a skill usefully employed by procurement too. The world is moving far more quickly nowadays: you either need to know what’s coming or deal with it as soon as it does.
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